June 21, 2003:
I’m writing this entry aboard our flight from Rome to JFK. It’s going to be a long flight — at least 8 hours, 30 minutes — and writing will help to pass the time somewhat. I thought I might jot down some thoughts on various topics.
First, a few thoughts about my traveling companions on this trip. I think any trip like this, where you go to a foreign country where English is not the native language, can either bring people closer together, or they get on each other’s nerves and become sick to death of each other. I feel like this vacation has helped to bring our family closer together. We spent a lot of time together, had lots of common experiences, and shared lots of common stories and jokes. These included my “obsessions” with churches, Italian foods, and other items, Richard’s fondness for Pizza Margheritas, Russell’s interest in trying Happy Hippos and other obscure Italian junk food, and Kish’s inability to even order food that she actually liked. We had some good laughs, and I think Richard and Russell got along well together.
In retrospect, I think Kish and I did a pretty good job of planning this trip. She handled all the details, and our reservations, car rentals, etc. came off without a hitch. If I had to do it over again, I probably would change only two parts of the trip — spending two days in Florence, and then heading south to Sorrento. I would either cut the trip short by two days, or juggle our schedule to that we could have gone to a town with a good beach where the boys could relax and we could spend a day without the urge to see some ruins or a Madonna and Child fresco. I also think that driving is a good way to get around Italy. It is more flexible than a train and, for four people, probably a lot cheaper. The only other difference I would consider in another trip would be to try to get hotels to give us more detailed directions on how to find them as we traveled. We spent many nerve-wracking minutes driving through towns with poorly marked streets, trying to find our hotels. If we could have done something to have avoided or minimized that, it would have reduced the stress involving in driving considerably.
Finally, I liked Italy very much. It was always hot, often dusty, and frequently crowded, but it is a fun and interesting place with some unique places to visit, some spectacular artwork to seek, and some superb culture to experience. The food is wonderful, and the Italians seem like nice, polite people who appreciate tourists (except when those Italians get into their cars and become aggressive, tailgating lunatics). I would come back to Italy again, but I think there are lots of other places to see and cultures to experience — in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the world. I would certainly recommend Italy to someone who hasn’t visited it before, and I wouldn’t mind spending another day or two with Kish and the boys at La Badia.
Richard’s post-script: June 2003 — We enter the breakfast room for the first time . . . And Dad was never to be the same again . . . .
Kish’s post-script: We had a great two weeks of travel in Italy and, more importantly, family time.